CEO Point Blank

CEO Point Blank
Being a chief executive is like no other life experience; it’s a thrill no drug or activity can replace and you either love it or don’t want anything to do with it.
According to Ed Jenks, CEOs are not mysterious creatures. Most have souls, and contrary to the general opinion of most people, the majority really do want the best for their organizations, the folks that work there, and the shareholders that believe in them. This book is both case study and cautionary tale, written for a specific community: those who envision themselves sitting in the top organizational chair. If you are tentative and unsure if the top is the right place for you, please understand that it is not the intention of this book to scare you away, but rather to inform and advise you of some of the challenges you may encounter. -Sharon Jenks, CEO The Jenks Group, Inc

Executives Learn from Navy SEALs – Game Changing Skill 6: “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday”

Do you practice hard work? Does your corporate culture FAST Team 8 learning the Tip of the Spear, Speed-Surprise-Impact of Actionsupport planning to work hard? How can you increase the level of unconscious competence for yourself and your team?

Practice working hard at hard work

Have you ever heard of anyone planning to work hard?  In today’s business environment, you hear a lot more about work/life balance and making sure to take the time to smell the roses than you do about planning to work hard at hard work.  The fact is, planning to work hard is what separates great teams from mediocre effort and eliminates those who don’t have the desire or the skill to be a Game Changer.

Game Changers understand that working hard at hard work makes the execution effort endurable and sustainable.  This is not necessarily targeted at physical work, although durability and endurance for executives most certainly is part of the hard work principle.  Just as important however, is the ability to mentally, emotionally, and spiritually endure those periods of time when things don’t go as planned or practiced, or when we might be less than 100% in our physical ability or intellectual prowess.  The ability to ask yourself for a greater effort than what might be your norm, and having the will to respond to that call, can only be attained by practicing your way to that end.

Take a moment to think about it.  Based on what you do, rather than what the organization does, what constitutes working hard at hard work for you?  It might be a task that’s tedious but necessary, something that requires additional education or experience, or a heavy travel schedule.  Jot down your thoughts as either an explanation or a list of hard work tasks.  There’s no right or wrong, and it’s possible that each participant’s answers will be completely different.  The important lesson here is to acknowledge what constitutes hard work for you and your team.

In this climaxing experiential exercise in our program is the accumulation and culmination of the hard skills learned and practiced in Skills 1 – 5.  This exercise will allow the participants the opportunity to demonstrate the following skills:

  •  Mission Review/Acceptance/Commitment
  • Recon/Intelligence/Search/Dominate/Control
  • Communication/Strategic Planning/Decision Making/Contingency Planning/Agreement5
  • Relevant Training and Practice/Task assignment/Slow is smooth and smooth is fast
  • Utilization of Speed-Surprise-Violence of Action
  • Operating in complete chaos and a constantly changing environment while practicing combat buddy: two into danger, no one left behind, direct communication.

-Ed Jenks, Author of CEO Point Blank and Sr Strategist for The Jenks Group, Inc.                       “Everything Counts”

Executives Learn from Navy SEALs – Game Changing Skill 5: Chaos as a Strategic Advantage

What are the rules of engagement by which you operate? Do you defy Sequence 01_Still003(1)(2)distraction and adapt to situations in order to maintain focus? Are you aware of the details that lead to execution on goals?
Have you ever wondered what compels a normally reasonable person to run headfirst into a disaster to help rescue a person in need?  Have you ever wondered how a fireman or a soldier can walk calmly into a burning building or a firefight with the enemy?

While we can understand the concept of subjugating self to mission and the importance of the mission itself, what differentiates a spontaneous unplanned “rescue” action from a “mission” action is that an operator has been trained to deliberately utilize the chaos around him or her to their strategic advantage. They support their action with the unconsciously-competent components of their “kit” to be the most formidable operators on the planet.

The first key learning point that makes the Fifth Skill complete is establishing organizational Rules of Engagement.  Good leaders and good teams work together to complete a mission successfully most of the time.  Great Leaders and Great Teams completely understand the team’s Rules of Engagement before they ever enter the fracas, which makes them successful all the time.

Being strong enough of character to establish organizational Rules of Engagement and enforcing those rules – or, more importantly, explaining them to the point where team members want to follow them – enable a team to function at a much higher level.

Rules of Engagement are those conditional guiding principles that the team agrees to live with for the single purpose of being game changers.  These might include things like no meeting Tuesdays, no cell phone Fridays, or no texting Mondays.

While technology certainly is an easy target, there are many other rules around which great team treaties can be made.  The identification of meeting purpose, for example, creates a common understanding for all participants about how they should behave in a given situation.  If the meeting is for the dissemination of information and it turns into a free-for-all about the company picnic, focus has been lost.  If the meeting is for the purpose of problem solving and there are insufficient facts or reports with which to make sound decisions, the meeting is most likely a waste of time.

When your Rules of Engagement are embedded in your unconsciously-competent kit, you’re on your way to utilizing “Chaos as a Strategic Advantage”!

The second key learning point for the Fifth Game Changing Skill is focus.  Operators and first responders have the ability to accept the environment they’re in, adapt to it as necessary, control it to the extent they can, and never take their eye off the objective.

In the techno-cultural environment we live in today, we’re bombarded with interruptions that we sometimes desire and sometimes don’t.  Yet no matter the intent, we’re disturbed out of our thought process as many as 100 unplanned times each day.  These distractions include everything from a person casually strolling by our office door to the chime on our iPhone letting us know a text, message, or phone call has come in.  All of them take our mind off the task at hand for a minimum of 17 seconds, and that’s only if we don’t engage or respond!

The ability to stay focused on the task at hand, completing that task satisfactorily and then moving on to the next, allows us to achieve greater levels of personal output and success.  These distractions are not going to go away, and, in fact, may become of greater scale than we can imagine today.  Practicing focus, understanding the importance of single-minded purpose, and executing on it offers us competitive advantage.

The third key learning point of the Fifth Skill is execution, which is the ability to enact, finish, or complete the mission, strategy, or task to which we are committed.  There are many people with good intentions and great minds, creative, intelligent, and willing individuals, who don’t have the capacity to complete the mission due to lack of focus.  Further, there are many individuals who don’t consciously understand how much they are distracted on a minute-by-minute basis throughout the day, preventing them from being successful or, more importantly, a game-changer.

To execute effectively, all team members must be present and in the moment with a complete understanding of their responsibilities and authority, coupled with mission commitment and the ability to perform on target, on time, every time.  Completing on small tasks and recognizing the success of meeting even short milestones makes a team hungry for more success!

In SEALs training, each mate is required to make his bed perfectly each day or pay considerable consequences, which may include a two-mile open-ocean swim while in uniform.  The purpose of this activity, and getting it done perfectly, is to start each day with a small task successfully executed.  They then build on that one success to the next throughout the day.  Even if the rest of their day is horrible, they can still look forward to a good sleep in a well-made bed that night.  Small things matter when it comes to execution; there are no shortcuts to success. -Ed Jenks, Author of CEO Point Blank and Sr Strategist for The Jenks Group, Inc.

Executives Learn from Navy SEALs – Game Changing Skill 4: Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning Strategic Planning

How do you define strategy? Do you know what initiatives are necessary for achievement? Is each team member unconsciously competent in performing their responsibilities?

For the purposes of this skill, we define strategy as the overarching methodology utilized to meet the needs of achieving the mission.  We form these strategies into initiatives:  those activities that must be performed in order to gain traction and give the mission its mobility.

If our mission or goal is to take the beach, we may deploy several different strategies to accomplish this goal.  We could drop in from the sky, we could swim up to the beach, we could land a Zodiac on the sand, or we might drive up from the land side.  Each strategic initiative must be assessed for relevancy and risk as well as probability of outcome.

Each approach must be carefully thought out with assumptive reasoning, as much intelligence as can be gathered, and as much experience as the individual team members might have.  With the collective in hand, we must assess our skills as a team and determine what approach will best achieve the mission.

The developmental scale is as follows:

1.      The Mission

Determined by the top ranking officer.

In business, this is the CEO working with the senior executive team and the Board.

“Penetrate the building, locate and secure the President, bring him out alive and with minimal collateral damage.”

2.      Recon Team

Determine Ops Force and Building Layout while gathering any and all relevant intelligence that could affect the mission or the team.

In business, this is assessing our structure from facilities to environment, as well as gathering our reporting metrics for a look-back and a plan forward.  We might also look at our competitors and assess their market position.

Reconnaissance and Intelligence

Many times in the business community, we find ourselves reacting to information that may not be factual.  The importance of having vetted factual information on which we can act successfully is of paramount importance to the strategy we’re trying to deploy and keeping our commitment constant to advancing our organization in a game-changing manner.  Reacting to information both internally and externally is only a surety when we have vetted information that allows us to prepare adequately for the natural and reasonable risks in our path to achievement.

   3.   Strategic Initiatives

Based on the mission goal, the reconnaissance intelligence, the team capabilities, the team “kit,” and the experience, skill, and education of the team members, design the strategic initiative(s) necessary to achieve the mission goal.

Remember to utilize all the game-changing skills you have learned thus far.

Once you’e outlined your strategic initiatives, carefully assess each one and select only two initiatives out of all the concepts discussed.  Be sure to discuss all suggestions before proceeding to the next step.

   4. Assumptions

State the assumptions that the team has made in designing their Strategic Initiative(s).

   5.  Mission Domino

The Mission Domino is the outline of all the specific actions that must take place in order for the strategic initiative to be effective at achieving the mission.  These may be individual actions or team actions; situations or outcomes; etc.  This is where the devil in the detail makes the big picture look easy.  Again, remember to use all of the game-changing skills you’ve learned thus far.

 6. Risk Assessment/Contingency Planning

Reviewing your initial Strategic Initiative(s), Assumptions, and the Mission Domino, consider any and all activity that may present risk.

For the purpose of this exercise, consider risk in two categories.

First, what is the probability of the identified risk happening on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being of small probability and 5 being a show-stopper?

Second, assess the impact of the threat should it occur, on a scale of 0% to 100% with 0% having no impact and 100% being a show-stopper.

Identify and discuss all potential risks.  Once identified and assessed, create a mitigating response to each threat.

   7.  Train

Identify your training needs based on the Mission, Vetted Facts, Intelligence, Strategic Initiatives, Assumptions, Risk Assessment, Mitigating Response(s), and Team strengths.  Advise your Instructors of any additional training needs you have.

   8. Execute

Executives Learn from Navy SEALs – Game Changing Skill 3: Subjugation of Self to Mission

Safety trainingCould your executive team explain the corporate mission to a complete stranger? How do you deal with team members who are willing but unable? What about those who are able but unwilling?

The idea of “subjugation of self to mission” requires some definition of terms.

As defined by Merriam-Webster, subjugation strictly translates as “to gain control of by use of force; to gain obedience.”  Mission is defined as a “goal or activity given to an individual or group to accomplish.”

For the purposes of our work, we are defining “subjugation of self to mission” as the understanding and agreement that the goal we want to achieve is of greater importance than the individual team members who are charged with the task of  executing the strategy it takes to achieve the goal.

One should not assume that the individual is not important in this arena; quite the contrary.  The value proposition of the team is based on the collective contribution made by all members.  We often toss around the axiom that the “sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts,” and particularly in Military Special Ops such as our US Navy SEALs, the axiom becomes a foundational pillar of the strategic approach to mission.  All team members have a role that is strictly defined within the mission, a responsibility that is non-transferable, the authority necessary to complete their specific task, and the training and support necessary to be successful.  In this scenario, if an individual is incapable of completing their piece of the assignment, it does not mean the mission fails; instead, it means another teammate must complete their task as well as yours. -Ed Jenks, Sr Strategist for The Jenks Group, Inc.



Executives Learn from Navy SEALs – Game Changing Skill 2: Relevant Training


On the world stage today, the US Military machine is unequaled in capability, both tactical and strategic, to deploy, engage and control for one very basic reason. Relevant Training.  Our SEAL Instructors are engaged their entire careers in training for any and all contingencies they may encounter along the way to mission.  Lifelong learning is a way of life for these operators and even in retirement, they continue to hone their skills and stay fresh and contemporary.

Are you and your people unconsciously competent in your work? What does relevant training mean within your organization? What opportunity does your team need to be ready for?

Training must be relevant to the time, job, corporate goals, and culture

  • If you want to be successful, you have to practice practice practice
  • If you are “unconsciously competent” at everything you do, your not learning anything new
  • Failure makes “game changers” hungry and aggressive


Questions you should ask yourself….

Why is it important for a C-Suite Executive to be involved in, supportive of, and engaged in, employee training programs?

What training have you completed in the last twelve months?  In retrospect, was it relevant by the standards you have learned today? Would you say that training is part of your ongoing and sustainable organizational culture?

Executives Learn from Navy SEALs – Game Changing Skill 1: Tip of the Spear

Tip of the Spear: Speed, Surprise, and Impact of Action Triangle


What constitutes speed in your organization? Do you have the advantage of surprise? Are you aware of the game-changing impact of your actions?



S.O.S.T. is an educational experience for executives who want a new, more effective approach to achieving corporate goals. Let us teach you how this can be applied in your organization.


Executives Train Via War Games

war games, executives

The Jenks Group’s war-game training on a movie set in San Diego. Photo courtesy The Jenks Group

The Jenks Group, a consulting firm based in Solana Beach, is using former Navy SEALS and a battlefield movie set to train senior executives.



Workplace Assessments Are Fair — If They Come With Adverse Impact




On Sept. 29, The Wall Street Journal published the article, “Are Workplace Personality Tests Fair?” The article scrutinized the use of “personality” tests and highlighted two accusations of discrimination against a variety of retailers that used various tests as part of a hiring process. The case is under review by the EEOC, which is conducting an investigation of “personality tests,” according to the WSJ article.

Having spent the last three decades in the assessment industry, I am moved to respond.

I applaud the WSJ for taking a closer look at those who provide these sorts of personality tests, particularly those organizations that refuse to comply with federal regulations and provide adverse impact studies. Click here to read our white paper regarding adverse impact and its implications.

These studies are a requirement and best practice for anyone doing business in the assessment realm.

Adverse impact studies provide evidence there is no adverse impact — that no one could be discriminated against — in the use of assessments. It is essential in the assessment industry.

The purpose of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is to enforce (for the benefit of job seekers and wage earners) the contractual promise of affirmative action and equal employment opportunity required of those who do business with the federal government.

As a company, TTI has been aware of the need for a comprehensive adverse impact study that includes much more than race and gender. That’s why we began collecting data over 10 years ago on 13 additional categories of protected classes in addition to gender.

In 2012, we released our initial adverse impact study findings and encouraged our distributors to share these findings with their clients. We regularly revisit these studies to ensure there is no adverse impact against any group and provide updates to our VAAs and their clients.

There must be more accountability in the assessment industry regarding adverse impact.

Sadly, not all assessment companies invest the time and resources to produce adverse impact studies, nor do they base their instruments on deeper scientific understanding and data. Those who don’t risk the reputation of an industry that seeks to eliminate bias from the hiring process and uplift rather than discriminate against individuals.

As the WSJ article stated — and several of the companies using assessments noted — when implemented according to federal guidelines and using a basis of sound science and research, assessments help to empower all and discriminate against none, creating job match, greater employee happiness and better workplace environments.

Our commitment to integrity and research mandates the use of adverse impact, and we encourage all similar companies to commit to the same.

To answer the WSJ’s primary question: Yes, the use of assessments is fair – but unfortunately too many companies place themselves in jeopardy by not using assessments with robust adverse impact studies and based on additional anti-discriminatory research.

It would be wise of companies to scrutinize the structure of any and all assessments and educate themselves on the methodology of the instrument they are using, as well as demand a current adverse impact study with EEOC and OFCCP compliance.

assessments, behavior, employee engagement


Bill J. Bonnstetter is chairman of TTI Success Insights and founder and chairman of Target Training International. He is considered one of the pioneers in the assessment industry because of his significant contributions to the research and study of human behavior. @bbonnstetter